The Bafang 750w BBS02 and its soon to be unleashed big brother the Bafang 1000W Heavy Duty is creating a stir in the DIY and commercial ebike scene. The BBS02 is probably the best selling kit in the country for DIY ebike builders. It has easily trumped any hub motor kit as the best selling and most exciting kit, and for good reason.
What the Bafang offers is an expensive commercial bike experience at an affordable price. Consider the following commercial bikes:
When I first started electricbike.com, one of my first reviews was on the Optibke 800 watt, which back then was a $12,000 bike. Today they offer a 1100 watt version with a 48 volt / 20-Ah battery for around $14,000. Until recently these bikes were in a class of their own…they could climb mountains with their 1100 watt mid drives, which no reasonably priced bike could do at the time.
The Bosch powered E-bikes
Consider all the beautiful Bosch drives, which recently tried to make a splash in the United States, but…kind of belly flopped. The Bosch drive was designed for the European market and therefore is only rated at 250 watts. It is a beautiful system and it runs incredibly smooth with its amazing torque sensor and silent operation…but wait, it has no balls. You feel bionic but with no balls.
What’s the matter with those expensive commercial ebikes?
Ebikes like the Optibike and Bosch/ Haibike look fantastic, and may very well have the capacity to be popular in the USA. However, their price tag makes them very prohibitive to buy, and they have always been fringe products bought by the privileged few. Although the prices of commercial available hub-powered bikes have been plummeting, thanks in large part to the success of the $599 Sondors Ebike , a good affordable mid-drive electric bike has not been an option. (read our article on the benefits of a mid drive over a hub drive)
We want power to the people…not power to the rich old guys. We want people to jump on their electric bike and leave their cars and motorcycles at home. We want young college students to want to be able to afford and want to be seen on an electric bike. We want stars like Leonardo DiCaprio to be seen on an electric bike…oh wait we got that.
But we want to see him riding something cooler looking than an a2b.
Enter The BBS02
The BBS02 has the capacity to change everything in the electric bike world, and it is well on its way to do just that in the DIY community. Suddenly it’s very feasible to have a very good performing mountain bike that is affordable…actually one that can outperform previously mentioned ebikes and if the owner has some taste and building skills even look just as good.
The BBS02 is a mid drive. It replaces your existing crank set, connects to your bottom bracket and uses the existing gears of your bike to power the bike. That means it can be an excellent climber, or a 30mph street rocket with the same set up. Hub motors are either geared for torque or geared for speed, with the Bafang BBs02 you get it all.
What is also special about the Bafang is that it uses a geared motor to power it. This means that it is able to be small in size and light in weight and still put out plenty of power.
With the Bafang BBS02 installed on your bike you have a lot of advantages over any other kit.
- It is super quiet…especially considering it’s a mid drive
- Lightweight (only 8.5 pounds)
- Weight is mounted low and centered, which actually acts as a keel and adds stability to your bike.
- Weight is not sprung awkwardly in a wheel like a hub motor
- With gearing you can keep your motor spinning fast at peak efficiency
- Capable of putting out 1300 watts (!)
- Its able to climb mountains and cruise at 30mph on the same bike
- You feel at one with your motor…kind of a bionic feeling
What this also means is an entirely different type of riding is available to DIY bike builder, and that is off road riding. Hub motors are notoriously bad for hard core off road riding.
To get an idea how fun a mid drive can be for riding off road watch this page of videos which beautifully depicts the fun of a mid drive…doing things a hub motor bike could never dream of doing like climbing stairs.
I especially what this rider has done back in the day before the inexpensive Bafang was available with build yourself mid drives: Adam Mercier filmaker
Here is a video which shows how fun a mid drive can be with the proper attitiude:
Woah! Not So Fast…..
But wait, to have that much fun on an ebike you are going to need more power than what the Bafang comes with out of the box. This is why I did not take the Bafang BBS02 too serious for the last few years…pffft, 750 watts?…so what! I would rather buy a 3000 watt lightning rods drive. 750 watts is really not that interesting if you ever rode something with real power. In fact, I recommend for any real power junkies to take a look at the American-made Lightning Rods set up for something with twice as much power as the Bafang for a bit more cost.
The way it comes from the factory, the BBS02 is rated for 750 watts…and it puts out a bit more than 750 watts if you pedal like hell. It is pedal-assist only, and the stock system only allows you to add some throttle while you are pedaling. You can’t get wide open throttle just by jamming the throttle to wide open. In stock format, the bike is not that exciting to ride…and for serious trail riding you do want a throttle only mode when going over really technical terrain.
Lets face it…us Americans love our throttles…and we want wide open throttle (WOT) whenever we want it…and don’t want to have to peddle really fast to get it. We like stuff like wide open throttle for free. We are not Europeans who are only allowed pedal assist, and with just 250 watts. We have been granted 750 watts and we want it all whenever we want it.
The Re-branded BBS02 Drive
Some prominent Bafang dealers have reprogrammed the BBS02 and made it awesome with 1300 watts of power, and enough performance to compete with expensive commercial mid drives, and then re-branded it as something else. They then sell it at a premium price claiming its a different and better product than the Bafang BBSo2 (it’s not). Until recently if you wanted to figure out how to reprogram your own Bafang drive you would need to make your own cable and wade through a 39 page Endless Sphere thread to figure out some good program settings.
At this writing, no dealer has changed the inside of the drive unit, other than to offer their own custom program settings. Programming a BBS02 is as easy as plugging in a cable and changing a few settings. In fact any user can buy a programming cable for $20 and program their own BBS02 to popular hot rod setting by using this guide or you can copy your favorite dealer’s settings by digging them up on this endless sphere thread.
The answer of course is make the Bafang programming open source. Already the hardware is good. Some renegade DIYers have figured out how to bring the Bafang back to what it is capable of being …an affordable mid drive system that is unleashed and fast.
For those that don’t know, Endless-sphere is the ultimate resource for people trying to build affordable ebikes with awesome performance. If you ever want to separate the juice from the snake oil…spend a few nights researching your next purchase on endless-shere. As many of you know Electricbike.com was spawned from endless-sphere, and all of our writers are ES Members.
With a $20 Bafang programming cable and simple programming change, you can get 1300 watts and even as high as 1450 watts with a 52 volt battery. Suddenly the Bafang gets very very interesting. A pioneer for hot rodding the BBS02 has definitely been Karl from Electric-fatbike.com who deserves full credit for building the ultimate resource in his website for BBS02 users who want to get the ultimate power out of their units. He is a true believer in the electric bike revolution and thinks the BBS02 is the best tool for the job (so far).
When Karl published his programming guide for anyone to hot rod their Bafang who wanted to he did a service to the ebike DIY community.
Thanks to guys like him we have guys like this:
But wait there’s another Glitch
So even when you figure how to order an affordable Bafang kit, get it re-programmed to eliminate factory limits, and get it all dialed in…there’s another road block to getting your dream ride on the road. The ebike battery pack is expensive and hard for folks to buy.
DIY electric bike packs have been prohibitively expensive, forcing hobbyists to build their own packs from dangerous Hobby King RC-LiPo cells or shoddy Chinese packs purchased off ebay. Both of these solutions are unreliable and dangerous.
Enter Luna Cycle (warning shameless sales pitch)
Enter Luna Cycle (created by myself), which finally offers quality battery packs made with quality Korean and Japanese name brand cells and state of the art BMS’s (battery management systems) at a fraction of the price that anyone else is selling them for.
Luna batteries are filled with quality juice and know how to party, and…party without breaking the bank.
Luna Cycle specializes in high power packs in 48 and 52 volt sizes….packs made of the latest greatest 18650 chemistry, the safest building blocks of today’s electric vehicle packs. Luna Cycle has an emphasis on offering undeniable quality at an affordable price. For example, it is possible to buy a hotrod programmed Bafang BBS02 with 52 volt Battery from Luna Cycle for around $1000. And that is offered here in the USA, out of California.
A 52 volt battery instead of a 48 volt battery is the easiest and most effective way to get more power out of your Bafang (14 cells in series, instead of 13). A battery that is 52 volts, is fully charged at 58.8 volts, taking full advantage that the Bafang controller can handle a maximum of 60 volts. This means you can up your maximum wattage to over 1400 watts which will give you a significant power and top speed increase over a 48 volt batery. Luna Cycle is currently selling 13.6ah 52 volt ebike battery packs for $460 made with state of the art Panasonic cells, so that it fits in a tiny water bottle that will fit in most frames.
Since the Bafang only has a 25-amp controller (not that much) it does not need high amperage cells…so you can get away with the very sexy Panasonic NCR 18650-B cells which gives you incredible amp hours in a very small space (an amazing 3400-mAh per cell). That is the secret sauce in the Luna Cycles 52 volt 13.6ah 52 volt bottle pack. That is an amazing 700 watt hours in a very small water bottle sized pack. This is the same cell that was originally used by Tesla in their electric sports car.
With great power comes great responsibility
Now that your Bafang is “hot rodded” to be able to go wide open throttle at the flick of a wrist and you have a 52V battery to supply maximum wattage…Now you can easily blow out your controller if you are not careful with how hard you apply power. For example, try going up a big hill at full throttle in high gear, and…poof …your controller is fried. Also, you can turn your gears into peanut butter if you apply too much power too quickly while in high gear…and since you hot rodded it, you will not be covered by warranty. No worries, the Bafang is easy to work on and replacement parts are easy to get, and pretty cheap.
If you put some thought into how much power you are giving it while in the higher gears, you shouldn’t have a problem. Just remember the Bafang (like all electric motors) likes to spin fast. You got to keep the RPM’s up high if you don’t want to stress your internal components. Also, the lower tooth-count you pick for your Bafang (on the chainring), the more reliable your system will be (it will also be more torquey)
Just mind the gear that you are in. It’s hard to start pedalling up a hill in the wrong gear for example. If its hard for you to pedal, its hard on your Baby 8 pound Bafang too. (read this article on proper care of the Bafang).
The 3077 Mosfet Controller = twice the reliability when hot rodded
The very latest Bafang BBS02’s come from the factory with high quality 3077 mosfets (The third digit on the serial number will be an “N”), which basically makes the controller more robust, and it is the controller that is the most likely part of the kit to fail when you mistreat your baby. If you are ordering a kit, make sure yours comes with factory-upgraded 3077 mosfets. And if you have the old BBS02….don’t sweat…ride it like you want to ride it…and if you do blow your controller it is a 30 minute job to switch it out and you can buy a 3077 controller here , and then you’ll have a more robust controller for your next ride. What’s interesting is that the stock Bafang did not need 3077 mosfets, because it was so hard to blow out of the box with the factory settings…but because of people hot rodding their settings and buying drive systems in which the dealers had upgraded the controllers, the need for a more beefy controller was created.
If you want to buy a pre-programmed custom BBS02 with 3077 mosfets, you can get a hot rod program Bafang for $550 from Luna Cycles or, if you want to buy from China we recommend vendor Paul at Emv3 who has the BBS02 for $479 plus shipping from China. Paul gets credit for being the first dealer to install 3077 mosfets into his Bafangs and getting the factory to follow suit.
What about the install?
We find that many people who are new to ebikes look for easy-to-install kits without a lot of wiring to figure out. Because the Bafang has its controller built into the drive, it is a relatively easy install.
Because it is not built into a wheel, you won’t have the problem of having to rebuild a wheel to use your high quality rear rim on your bike (a big problem with hub motor kits) and you won’t have the problem of getting a new freewheel to work with your new system (another problem with hub motor kits).
The hardest part of installing the Bafang is removing the old bottom bracket from your donor bike. We recommend you have a local bike shop do this because this simple task can take a new ebiker up to 2 hours, especially if you don’t have the right tools.
One of the great things about the Bafang is that any local bike shop should be able to do the install for you, where as most of them will not touch a hub motor kit install. With the Bafang you do not have to worry about issues such as rear gear cluster, torque arms, controller mounting and wiring etc….
We estimate it will take the average mechanically-inclined person 2-4 hours to install the whole thing. And if you are not mechanically inclined? We recommend you take to your Local Bike Shop (LBS).
Here is a video to give you a better idea what you are in for:
52 volt Battery –
A 52 volt battery instead of a 48 volt battery is the easiest and most effective way to get more power out of your Bafang.
Chain Ring adapters –
Many vendors are offering $35 custom chain ring adapters, which allow you to use custom bling rings and other sizes of chain rings that aren’t offered by Bafang. This is mostly a cosmetic enhancement, but still a very cool enhancement. Also the number of teeth on the chain ring significantly changes the overall gearing of your bike which can be very important for performance if you are going to go with an oversized chain ring (Bafang makes a maximum of 52T) or very small chainring for extreme hill climbing (Bafang offers only as small as 42T). Read all about chainrings here. I have also heard good chainrings will reduce chain wear although one good kmc chain and you will never stress about chain wear again.
The Gear Sensor –
Lectriccycles.com from Arizona has rebranded the BBS02 as the “E-rad” and have distinguished their drive by being the only dealer in North America that can sell the nifty Gear Sensor device made by gearsensor.com. When plugged into a Bafang BBS02 it will automatically cut the throttle for a brief moment just long enough to shift gears. This eliminates the problem of hard shifts when in pedal assist mode (the motor applies power to the pedals when it senses you pedaling). When it is setup correctly this can make riding your Bafang an easier and smoother experience. To get this unit you will either have to pay $100 for it from Lectriccycles.com or pay a premium to get the E-Rad branded BBS02 kit here.
This cool device is probably not worth this premium price. #1 it is a hassle to install. #2 it is one more piece of technology that can fail and cause you to break down #3 Most high quality derailleurs shift fine under motor power and don’t need it. #4 if you ride in throttle-only mode you won’t need it. #5 If you want to cut power to your BBS02 you can just tap your brake lightly and this will trigger the ebrake cut-off and you can shift easily with the power off. #6 After you figure out how to shift with the Bafang you will not need a $100 nifty gadget to ride your ebike effectively.
The Fat Bike Conversion Kit
The Bafang in its stock form is not compatible with extra wide 100mm bottom brackets. Some dealers have made a kit with a custom axle that adapts the stock kit for a fat bike. Of course this customized kit costs a premium (over $1000). Do not waste your money on this conversion, Bafang is releasing a 1000w fat bike drive kit in October/November that makes the 750w fat bike conversion kits completely Obsolete.
Enter the HD-1000 a Beefier and Faster Bafang
Bafang is releasing a bigger and more powerful version of their motor this month called the HD-1000. This is a drive pumping out 30-amps without overheating…so 1700 watts at 52 volts. It has a bigger more reliable controller, and the actual motor is larger. The BBS02 started with 6 generic FETs, and had to go to 9 FETs to help with heat, and then…they finally went to the more efficient 3077 FET to help even more with the heat. This new HD-1000 uses twelve of the 3077 FETs.
So far we have only gotten our hands on one fat bike prototype (pictured) and they are awesome. For sure this kit is a no brainer for a fat bike build. It will also be available for standard sized bottom brackets, but it remains to be seen what pedal clearance will be like and if special “S” shaped crank arms will be needed.
What’s exciting is it seems possible to hot rod this motor to handle a lot more than 1700 watts…We have a prototype of this bike (pictured) and it is incredible. (read Turbo Bob’s first impressions). I will be writing a complete review on the new Bafang 1000 watt mid drive next week.
More to come later.
Written By Electricbike.com editor Eric Hicks